Search site

Permitted work

This page tells you about some work you may be able to do even if you are considered to have 'limited capability for work'

Working while having 'limited capability for work'

If you are claiming a benefit because you have a 'limited capability for work' you are treated as 'capable of work' for any week in which you actually do work.  However, if you do voluntary or 'permitted work' you can still continue to claim your benefit.


What is permitted work?

There are three types of permitted work:

  • Permitted work higher limit
  • Permitted work lower limit
  • Supported permitted work
     

Permitted work higher limit

  • work for which you do not earn more than £99.50 a week and
  • work which you do for less than 16 hours a week and
  • work which will normally last for no longer than 52 weeks
     

There is no limit on the amount of weeks you can choose to do this work for if you are in the ESA support group, or you get incapacity benefit and are exempt from the Personal Capability Assessment.

You should notify the Department for Work Pensions (DWP) that you have started the work as soon as possible.


There are circumstances where the 52 week period can be repeated after a 12 week break between ESA claims or after a 8 week break between Incapacity Benefit claims. You would need to show that it has been at least 52 weeks since your last period of permitted work.
This work will not affect your ESA but will reduce any Income Support you may be claiming.


Permitted work lower limit

You can do any work you choose but must not earn more than £20 a week. There is no limit on the amount of weeks you choose to do this work for. This work will not affect any means tested benefits you may be claiming. 


Supported permitted work

This is work which is arranged for you by an organisation who provide work opportunities for people with disabilities. You would receive support whilst doing this work.

Work which is part of a treatment programme also counts as supported permitted work.


You should notify the DWP that you are going to do this work. You must not earn more than £99.50 a week.  There is no limit on the amount of weeks you choose to do this work for.


How does it affect benefits?

Although there are some types of permitted work which you can do for more than 16 hours a week, if you get Income Support, you may lose it if you work for 16 hours or more.

If you get Employment and Support Allowance your earnings will not affect your benefit (unless you earn over the limit).

Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance are not means-tested so your earnings will not affect your benefit (unless you earn over the limit).

If you get Income Support, your permitted work earnings will be counted as income and may reduce your entitlement to benefit.

Your earnings will affect any Housing Benefit and Local Council Tax Support you receive but if you get contributory ESA (cESA), or national insurance credits instead of cESA, Incapacity Benefit or Severe Disablement Allowance a weekly earnings disregard of £99.50 will apply.

 
You can get more help from:

 
Citizens' Advice Bureau
- Blackburn House, Ground Floor, 32 Crouch Street, Colchester, CO3 3HH. Open Monday - Wednesday and Friday, 9.30am - 12.30pm for personal callers and 2pm - 4pm for queries over the phone - 0844 477 0880